Georgia Tech defensive scouting report

The Yellow Jacket defense recently went through an overhaul, with defensive coordinator Al Groh being let go and Charles Kelly taking over. In evaluating the Georgia Tech defense before and after the change, Coach Doman has seen a much improved unit.

It's been night and day for the defense of Georgia Tech since the dismissal of defensive coordinator Al Groh. In his stead, Charles Kelly has stepped in as the interim coach due to the midseason coaching change.

"They made some changes in their defensive staff, and I'm not aware of all the changes, but they've simplified their scheme and I think it's made them better," Coach Doman said. "After watching them the first four or five games and then watching them against Boston College, I think they're a different defense and a better defense than prior."

Coach Kelly came in and got down to the basics. He simplified the defensive game plan and focused on execution.

"They had some defensive fat they needed to trim," said Coach Doman. "They had busted assignments and poor execution, but last week against Boston College they were sound in their scheme and had good execution."

The Georgia Tech defense uses a 3-4 front most of the time.

"They'll adjust that front and get down to a four-down front, but they're very similar to what our defense does and similar to what Notre Dame did, and I think personnel is similar and that's why they're doing what they're doing," said Doman.

Doman expects Georgia Tech to play BYU similarly to how it played Boston College.

"They didn't do very much and maybe they will against us, but I would be shocked if they try and do a whole bunch of different stuff," Coach Doman said. "I suspect they'll take a hand full of things they're doing well and executing well, and that's what they'll come out doing."

The Cougar offensive linemen will have their hands according to Doman.

"They've got some big, physical ACC talent up front," said Coach Doman. "They've got some big defensive linemen and big, physical linebackers."

So who will the Cougars face? Let's take a look at the three Yellow Jacket down linemen.

Emmanuel Dieke

Coming in at 6 feet 6 inches and 270 pounds, junior Emmanuel Dieke's career started his redshirt freshman year when he played nine games in 2010. In 2011, Dieke played as a backup in all 13 games and recorded 20 tackles, two tackles for a loss and two sacks. The scouting report on Dieke is that he has very good lateral movement and quickness on the edge as a pass rusher.

T.J. Barnes

The tallest and biggest of the Yellow Jacket linemen, redshirt senior T.J. Barnes comes in at 6 feet 7 inches and 345 pounds and is tied for the most career games played as a returning starter (39). In high school, Barnes was a two-way player and rated the 59th best offensive line prospects nationally out of Alabama. He has very good range to go with his size and is the anchor in the middle of the Georgia Tech defense.

"Well, Georgia Tech's nose guard is 6'7", 345 pounds, just to give you an idea, so it will be a challenge up front," said Coach Doman. "He's a good, big, physical football player up front and I thought Notre Dame's nose guard [Louis Nix] was too and Braden [Hansen] did a good job.

"I don't know if we've played a nose guard like [Nix]. He and Star [Lotulelei] are probably two of the best of the handful of defensive linemen that we've seen, and Braden did a fairly good job battling up front and moving around, so we'll miss him."

Izaan Cross

Considered the most talented defensive linemen for Georgia Tech, 6-foot-4-inch, 300-pound senior Izaan Cross is a load for offensive linemen. A high effort player with a motor that never quits, Cross is considered one of the best defensive line prospects in the ACC. He played in 13 games and started two as a redshirt freshman, and he's never looked back. Over the past two seasons, Cross has been the primary starter at the left defensive tackle position and will be someone BYU has to account for up front.

Coach Doman is expecting the Yellow Jacket defense to come out with a straight-up approach to the Cougar offense.

"The best defenses that I've coordinated against, or even coached against, have really good talent and then they just do two or three things and they do it really well," said Coach Doman. "Usually up front they're able to stop the run without safety help, like Notre Dame for example.

"In this case with Georgia Tech it'd be interesting to see how effective we can be up front. We've got some injuries and some bang ups that will be hard to sort ourselves through, but nine weeks in without a break, it's going to be quite a battle on Saturday."

The Yellow Jacket secondary takes cover-two approach to the outside wide receivers.

"They're good and I think they'll play some high safety shells, and I think they'll protect their corners a little bit with their safeties like Notre Dame did," said Coach Doman. "Notre Dame didn't hardly leave their corners on an island, and I don't think Georgia Tech will do that either. We'll be playing against a similar look, I suspect, that Notre Dame game us."

The challenge to get Ross Apo involved could continue based on how defenses have elected to cover the field side.

"The difficulty with field right now is Riley's comfort level with throwing the ball out there," said Coach Doman. "Our field throws if they get extended is not Riley's biggest strength, so sometimes they can protect that corner by pulling him out a ways. So, we have to do some stuff, and in the last two games our scheme in the plan has gotten really tight and I think it's really good."

With the safeties focusing on the outside receivers, there is a chance for BYU's tight ends to have some success.

"Our tight ends and our running backs should have great success because of what they're doing," said Doman. "The tight end should have five to seven balls a game at least, but we're not quite there in the last couple of games.

"If our tight end position can advance past where it is now, we'll be better. There's no question about it, so it isn't where [we want it to be] right now, and I think we've got some ability and some guys on the team that have the ability but haven't quite done it. But, I think we'll get there. "

Coach Doman's keys to victory

"I think we'll have to establish the run a little bit," said Coach Doman. "Then hopefully eliminate that early turnover in the game. If we can eliminate that second quarter turnover, I think we'll be in great shape if those two things occur. I like some of the things we're doing in the pass game that we can see in the Notre Dame game and the Oregon State game. I think it will just improve. I like the plan. Those two things will help us – with running the football and then securing it early on in the game – and I think will give us a little more momentum going into the second half."

Despite the challenges of blocking some big defensive linemen up front, Doman doesn't expect the running game to take a back seat.

"No, we have a good running back," said Coach Doman. "Those guys will do fine and Jamaal will see lanes and we'll do fine.

"You're seeing our running backs have a little more success now. Even in the pass game, Jamaal caught five or seven balls, but you're seeing him have some opportunities and our option routes are having some opportunities.

Sideline note

Coach Doman and the Cougar offensive staff does expect Braden Hansen to recover from the injury he sustained during the Notre Dame game.

"I can't go into the injury either, but it's an injury that he'll recover from, so we'll see him again this season," said Coach Doman. "It wasn't an injury that's going to sideline him forever. It's just a matter of how quickly it will heal. It is significant enough that we're not going to have him on Saturday."


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